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Home🌌Off Topics🌌Off Topics Main Discussion › How-To: Convert 4' fluorescent tube shop light to LED
01-06-2015 02:17 AM  5 years ago
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ticedoff8

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Morgan Hill, CA. USA

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How-To: Convert 4' fluorescent tube shop light to LED
In my garage / workshop, I have nine, 4' dual fluorescent light fixtures.
In the kitchen, I have two 4' fluorescent (recessed) fixtures.
In closets, I have four 2' fluorescent fixtures

Each 4' tube is a standard T12 40W fluorescent tube. I buy a box of 10 from Home Depot or Lowes for about $20 ($2 per tube).

With all the lights on in the garage, that is 18 tubes x 40W each = 720W.
The kitchen is 4 tubes x 40w each = 160W
That is about 1000W of fluorescent tubes around the house.

Two things I hate: Paying power companies and paying oil companies.

So, I looked into converting my fluorescent tubes to LED.
Here is what I found:
* It is easy,
* Will cut your power at least in 1/2,
* Seem to be brighter,
* Costs about $10 per tube,
* They do not flicker in the cold
* No matter how cold it is, they turn on instantly and at full brightness (no warm up).

First, I found the LED tubes on eBay.
They range in price from $9 to $25 each tube.
* You can choose the brightness (Lumens). A typical 4' 40w fluorescent tube is 2600 to 2800 lumens.
* You can choose the color (Temperature in K). A typical 4' 40w fluorescent tube is "Cool White" and measures 4100K (kind of a "Creamy White" color)
* You can choose the power (Watts). The brightness of an 4' LED tube is directly related to power consumption.

I found a company selling on eBay:
LEDKing*US (http://www.ebay.com/usr/ledking*us?_trksid=p2047675.l2559)
They are based in the US, but everything they sell is from China (similar to the Online RC Helicopter hobby shops).

I chose 4 kinds of LED tubes:
1200mm 24W (3000L) 6500K (bright white w/ clear cover)
1200mm 20W (2400L) 6500K (bright white w/ a defused cover)
1200mm 20W (2400L) 4000K ("Cool White" w/ clear cover)
600mm 9W (1200L) 6500K (bright white w/ clear cover)

If you measure a 4' fluorescent tube, the actual length is about 47 1/4" (not counting the pins). The 1200mm (47.24" ) tube is a good fit in a standard 48" fixture.
A 2' fluorescent tube is around 23 1/4. The 600mm (23.62" ) tube is not a great fit for a 24" fixture. I forced it to fit. But, it is ugly.

The other factor is the difference between a "T12" and a "T8" tube.
On fluorescent tubes, a T12 is less efficient and larger diameter than a T8. But, they are the same length and same pin configuration.
For LED - it makes no difference. Everything is being sold as T8.
The 1200mm T8 LED tube fits perfectly in my antique "T12 only" fixtures and the newer "T8" fixtures.

Each LED tube has the same "Dual pin" connection as a standard fluorescent tube on each end. It snaps into the fixture exactly like a standard fluorescent tube.

The "sockets" on the fluorescent fixture (where the 2-pin ends of the tube snap in) are called "Tombstones".
Some tombstones have two wires and some have 1 wire.
If you wire it the way I did, it makes no difference

Basics:
There are 2 ways to convert a standard fluorescent fixture to LED:
1) Buy the Philips InstantFit LED T8 Lamps. As long as your fixture is rated for T8, these are direct replacements for the standard fluorescent tube. No rewiring required. There is a smaller selection of brightness and colors and the are about $20 each.

2) Remove the ballast and rewire the fixture.
Rewiring fixture will power the LED tube with 85V to 277V AC directly to the ends of the LED tube. In my house, the "Line Voltage" is 120v AC - no problems.
This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to go.

There are 2 ways to rewire the fixture and I chose the easiest.
1) You cut out the ballast
2) Wire the "Line" (black wire) to all wires from all the tombstones on end #1
3) Wire the "Neutral" (white wire) to all the wire on all the tombstones on end #2.
Done.

On the easiest fixtures, I could leave the fixture in place on the ceiling, cut out the ballast, rewire it and button it all back up in less than 15min.
The hardest ones were the ones that didn't have a ballast - they used transformers and capacitors in the end-caps. I had to dismount them, break open the end-caps, rewire and remount them. These took about 30min each (good thing I only had 5 of those)

The really neat thing is that some of the fixtures now only have 1 LED tube. The LED provide a bright white color and seems to equal the brightness of 2 of the old fluorescent tubes in the same fixture.
In these cases, I actually cut the power by 75% over the dual 40w bulbs.

I used the 20W 4000K LED tubes in the kitchen
I used the 20W 6500K LED in some areas of the garage
I used the 24W 6500K LED in the workshop area of the garage and areas that I could get away with only 1 LED tube.

I expect to see a pretty good drop in the power used next month.
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01-06-2015 03:10 AM  5 years ago
jcrack_corn

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End of Time

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the bulk utility bills generally dont come from lighting

lets assume you have your 1000w of lights on for 12 hours/day
=12 kwH
average 8 cents per kw
12kwH x 30 days = 360kwH x .08 = 28 bucks divided by 2 (you said you should save 1/2) = 14 ish bucks in savings
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01-06-2015 03:55 AM  5 years ago
ticedoff8

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Morgan Hill, CA. USA

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Because I have an 8KW solar system and a "Smart Meter", I pay a "time of use" tiered rate:
7am to 10am = 14.8 cent per KWH
10am to 1pm = 22 cent per KWH
1pm to 7pm = 33.6 cent per KWH
7pm to 9pm = 22cent per KWH
9pm to 7am = 14.8 cents per KWH

I don't know where the "average" is 8 cents per KWH.
I California, it is 17 cents per KWH

I charge my Leaf from 12:30am to 7am
But, I work on my helis from 4pm or 5pm to 12am or 1am.

Every April 1st I "true up".
Last year, I owed $35 for 12 months of electricity.
That is $35 for 10,000 mile of driving and running the whole house.

This year, they will owe me.

As I get older, the amount and quality of the light is important to me. The LEDs are substantially better than the old fluorescent.

I didn't do it to save the planet.
I didn't do it to save money.

No one has to do this.
Many people wouldn't understand why I would pay $300 buck and 4 hours to convert from fluorescent to LED.

But, some might get it.

I did it mainly because I want to F**K with the power and oil companies.
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Believe 1/2 of what you see and none of what you hear.
Fake News will be the downfall of our Republic!
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01-06-2015 04:06 AM  5 years ago
GREYEAGLE

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Flat Land's

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How much does a Leaf Cost ? $25,000.00 and

a Replacement battery ? 5000.00 ?

Will it go in 8" of Snow and -10 Fahrenheit ? do they have Heat ? or 90 MPH ?

How much room is 24 ' square' of cubic feet ? A Lot ?

Sound's like I can plug it in across the street

Are you allowed to drive with your head sicking out of the Sunroof and carry golf club's ?

Think we are going to get FREE Chevy VOlt's ! Gas is under $2.00 !
greyeagle
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01-06-2015 04:10 AM  5 years ago
ticedoff8

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Morgan Hill, CA. USA

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I leased the Leaf.
Don't care about the replacement cost of the battery.
Don't care about the environmental impact of battery disposal.

I live in California. Who cares about snow or cold?
And, traffic is so bad, I couldn't get above 70MPH on a good day in a Ferrari.
But, I do get the HOV lane.

As far as driving with my golf clubs: I fly helis. You may golf. I don't.

The Leaf doesn't have a sunroof. My dog like to stick his head out the window - does that count?

And, the Leaf will fit 2 heli and support equipment.

My net TCO is lower than when I drove my BMW or Volvo.
It is the perfect car.

You think gas will stay at $2 / gal for very long?
Dream on.
They want people to run out and buy a bunch of SUV, so they can start to jack up the cost per barrel back to above $100.
It is called "short term memory loss".
You forgot they f***ed last week, so you will let them f**k you again next week.

I am operating like a true Republican.
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Believe 1/2 of what you see and none of what you hear.
Fake News will be the downfall of our Republic!
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01-06-2015 11:59 AM  5 years ago
helicopter

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Omaha, Nebraska

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I have a q.

What was the Final COST of the 8kw solar array?

23K?

What ROI is expected? 15 - 20 years?

Just askin.
I love gravity, it always keeps my feet planted when I fly!
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01-06-2015 07:36 PM  5 years ago
ticedoff8

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Morgan Hill, CA. USA

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After rebates and credits, it was closer to 27k.
ROI was not a factor.
But, before the solar was online, I was using an average of $300 / month on electricity.
For the last 12 month period, I used $3.50 / month (850 miles / month on the Leaf + all household & garage & computers).

I guess that would translate to an ROI of 7 1/2 years.
But, if I factor in about $120 / month for gas (instead of electricity for the Leaf) that comes down to about 5 1/2 years.

This year (with the LED lighting), I expect to see <$2> to <$3> / month (power company pays me wholesale cost of generation as if I was a generating plant).

It is an 8kw system, 32 panels roof mounted with 2 inverters.
Took 4 guys about 5 days to install.

I use "net metering" with the power company.
Excess generated power runs the meter backwards and I get a credit.
When I use more power than I generate, I consume the credit.
Simple and automatic. I do nothing.

+ > ÷
Believe 1/2 of what you see and none of what you hear.
Fake News will be the downfall of our Republic!
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01-06-2015 09:07 PM  5 years ago
jcrack_corn

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End of Time

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yeah. prices have gone up i guess....10-12 cents.
leave communistfornia

http://www.eia.gov/electricity/mont...cfm?t=epmt_5_03
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01-06-2015 10:36 PM  5 years ago
jake21

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ontario canada

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ticedoff8. Great write up on the lights. I really dont care about the cost of the lights but I hate waiting for the fluorescence lights to warm up when it is below 0. The lower cost of the electric bill is just a good bonus. I have 8 double 4 footers in my garage and will be changing soon. At -30 the lights dont even come on until there is some heat on.
Thanks Jake.
The only way to not crash is up
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01-15-2015 01:49 AM  5 years ago
Leif

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USA

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Lights
Thanks for the tip. I had already converted about 80% of my home lighting to LEDs, but had not considered doing the fluorescent tube lights before.

I got a 4-pack of the 4000K lights with ridged lenses off ebay from the vendor you recommended. Super-fast (and free) shipping. It took about 5 minutes to bypass the ballast in the two light fixtures that I converted.

These lights are MUCH brighter that the tubes they replaced. I estimate at least 40% brighter overall, with a 50% reduction in power used. I'll probably convert the remaining fixtures in a few weeks.

While it is true that lighting isn't the biggest power consumption area in most modern homes, by converting to mostly LEDs over the past year I've cut my home's light wattage from over 4000w total to less than 1000w total (counting all lights inside and outside the house). In fact, over 35% of the remaining wattage comes from halogen and incandescent lights that I can't find acceptable LED replacements for yet. This has resulted in a significant reduction in electric costs (20% or so). The other benefit of LEDs is that you don't need to be so concerned with lamp disposal as you do with CFLs and FL tubes.

Leif
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01-17-2015 11:09 PM  5 years ago
Dan Minick

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Columbus, WI

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you can also go to Costco and buy brand new 4 ft led double tube lights for 38$Team Synergy, Team FBL Rotors-------if its not broke...it will be!
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01-18-2015 03:33 AM  5 years ago
ticedoff8

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Morgan Hill, CA. USA

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http://www2.costco.com/Browse/Produ...&hierPath=95905*95995*99892*&lang=en-US
Maybe its a different fixture.

But, if you already have exiting fixtures, why would i spend $47 for a new fixture vs $21 for 2 LED tubes?
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Believe 1/2 of what you see and none of what you hear.
Fake News will be the downfall of our Republic!
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01-18-2015 03:46 AM  5 years ago
Dan Minick

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Columbus, WI

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that is the one, they were 38$ bucks in WI. Im not saying you NEED to, but your spending money on something that in the end is not new, and was not build for the purpose. Nothing wrong with what your doing. Just another option/ opinion.Team Synergy, Team FBL Rotors-------if its not broke...it will be!
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01-18-2015 01:55 PM  5 years ago
Leif

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USA

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I'm OK with re-using the "old" wires and sheet metal in my fixtures, especially if that saves me a bit of money. The only thing that needs to be "new" in a light is the part that converts the electricity to light.

The converted fluorescent fixture is functionally identical to the new one you buy with LED tubes, so it's a bit of a stretch to say it's not designed to work for this purpose. Bypassing a ballast is not a major design change.

Leif
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01-18-2015 08:24 PM  5 years ago
ticedoff8

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Morgan Hill, CA. USA

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Basically, I am a cheap bastard.

If I needed new fixtures, I might go this route:

Home Depot - 2-light, 4', T12, Fluorescent fixture - $11.86
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Lithonia...LIGHT/203081577

2, 1200mm 20W (2400L) 4000K ("Cool White" w/ clear cover) - $10 each.

For $31, you have a 4' shop light that provides 4800L (2x 2400L), "Cool White" (4000K), uses 40W total, starts instantly at low temperatures at full brightness and could last for the rest of YOUR life.

I think HD is blowing out the old T12 format because the T12 tube is so inefficient that no one is buying them anymore.

All you do is cut out the ballast, rewire the tombstones and plug in the LED tubes.
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Believe 1/2 of what you see and none of what you hear.
Fake News will be the downfall of our Republic!
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02-02-2015 10:45 PM  5 years ago
ticedoff8

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Morgan Hill, CA. USA

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Worth a push back to the top
TTT
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Believe 1/2 of what you see and none of what you hear.
Fake News will be the downfall of our Republic!
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02-07-2015 05:05 AM  5 years ago
FloridaHeli

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jacksonville, florida

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Sure appreciate this post
I had an F20T12 Fluorescent Tube in the kitchen pantry on a motion detector switch. Both the Bulb and switch went out at the same time.

I happened to come accross this thread and purchased a G-13 2FT Bi-PIN 6500K 9W CLEAR LED Fluorescent Replacement Tube F17T8/F20T12 from ledking*us for $12.99 shipped on eBay in 5 days.

Pulled the ballest and rewired it as noted above and it works great. Almost too great as the 6500K is like the sun is shinning in the pantry. We're getting used to it and I don't have to bring a flashlight to see the fine print on the boxes anymore.....

Thanks for posting this. It is a great service to us Geeks who don't know how to do everything or anything.
This hobby is WAY too expensive!!
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02-10-2015 10:05 PM  5 years ago
spaceman spiff

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Tucson

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A new LED tube fixture is being installed in one of our work areas this evening. This one is a complete unit with frosted bulbs, not a conversion.

I plugged it in breifly, lots of quality light. I like it.
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03-15-2015 10:47 PM  5 years ago
ticedoff8

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Morgan Hill, CA. USA

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Quick update:
My "true up" for this year's electric bill is March 31st.

Last year, I used 250kWh more than I generated and I paid the power company $35.

As of today (3/15), the Smart Meter tells me I generated 750kWh more than I used. At 4 cents per kWh, I will get a check from the power company for $30.

I attribute the large drop in usage to a mild winter and changing to LED lighting throughout the house and garage.
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Believe 1/2 of what you see and none of what you hear.
Fake News will be the downfall of our Republic!
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03-15-2015 11:42 PM  5 years ago
sharam

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Northern California - Fly at Morgan Hill Field

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Great post, thanks for the details. I also have a time of day meter and it can get pretty costly during peak times.Verba volant, scripta manet
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